The 10 Best Kitchen Knives

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This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in May of 2015. A good knife is a requirement for many cooking tasks, and a decent set can make any kitchen easier to work in. We've put together a list of some of the most well-made and useful options for home chefs, whether you just need one more blade or you're starting from scratch. All of our selections come from reputable manufacturers, so you know you're getting a quality piece. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.

1. Wusthof Classic Ikon Set

2. Mac Mighty Professional MTH-80

3. Zwilling J.A. Henckels Signature Set

Editor's Notes

March 13, 2020:

You can spend as little or as much as you want on the knives you need to get dinner prepared. If you're on a tight budget, you might be surprised how much you can actually get done with the Victorinox Fibrox, which costs very little but is a perfectly functional blade. Similarly, the wide selection of Mercer Ultimate options offers plenty of useful additions to not only home but also restaurant and catering kitchens. With those you'll want to make sure you have a decent knife sharpener because they tend to get dull relatively quickly, but that also means they're more durable than harder, Japanese knives. The Mercer Genesis is a bit similar in that its blades are made of relatively soft steel, so it may need frequent sharpening, but this isn't even really a bad thing; it's important to practice sharpening so that you're good at it and can do an effective job if you decide to upgrade to a more high-quality chef's knife.

If you've got a little cooking experience or you really want to take the learning process seriously, the Wusthof Legende set is a good place to start. Its knives are lightweight and easy to maneuver and made of relatively soft steel that makes them another good tool for learning how to sharpen with. Alternately, our top pick the Wusthof Classic Ikon is right in the middle between the high-end and entry-level knife sets and should satisfy a wide range of users.

If you do want to go with something considerably more fancy, we'd suggest looking at the Global Kabuto if you want something a bit unusual, or the Miyabi Artisan SG2 if you want something that really exemplifies traditional Japanese knifemaking.

But if you're only going to buy one, and you want to be certain you make a good investment, go for the Mac HB-85 or Mac Mighty Professional MTH-80. Both of these are professional-grade chef's knives and as long as you take good care of them, they can literally last for decades of regular use. If you're looking to flesh out a collection with something a little more specialized, there are many chinese cleavers, sushi knives, and tomato knives to choose from as well. We'd also strongly recommend picking up a honing rod and, if you'll be taking these to work with you, a knife roll and possibly even a cut glove.

Special Honors

Chef Knives To Go An excellent resource for all things knife-related, CKTG is a favorite among professional cooks as well as those who collect and use knives as a hobby. Its founder, Mark Richmond, is known as a connoisseur and purveyor of fine blades, sharpening tools, and utilities, and his selection high-end handmade Japanese blades is practically second to none.

4. Mac HB-85

5. Mercer Genesis

6. Miyabi Artisan SG2

7. Global Kabuto

8. Wusthof Legende

9. Mercer Ultimate

10. Victorinox Fibrox

Over The Edge: On Knives And Peanut Butter

I often use a paring knife to cut small slices of apple for myself before applying some peanut butter to them and eating them.

There's something unwieldy about trying to capture and spread peanut butter with a sharp knife. It doesn't quite cut it, metaphorically speaking.

I often use a paring knife to cut small slices of apple for myself before applying some peanut butter to them and eating them. It's a nice, healthy snack, but it's far easier to use a dedicated butter knife for the peanut butter than to try to use the paring knife.

What it comes down to is this: that the shape and sharpness of your knife will change its purpose. Try to cut bread with a chef's knife if you don't believe me. Then cut it with a bread knife. See the difference?

While the chef's knife can easily crack through the crust of a good loaf of bread, it's gummy interior sticks to the blade and is pushed down onto the cutting board, resulting in crushed, sad-looking slices.

The serrations on a bread knife, and its scallops if it's a good one, will grip the bread's gooey center at the knife's edge, and release that same doughy center at the sides of the blade, allowing for a nice clean cut.

Not only is having the right knife for the job essential, it is equally important that your knives are extremely sharp. Many people are scared of razor-sharp kitchen knives, but experienced chef's know that nothing is more dangerous than a dull knife. With a dull knife, the user tends to push with more pressure, often resulting in slips and serious cuts. Sharper knives mean less pressure and better control.

Can You Have Too Many Knives?

Picking the perfect knife set isn't the kind of thing over which you should necessarily lose a lot of sleep. If you pick the right set for your current needs and skill level, you can let it grow with you.

Here's what I mean:

If you pick the right set for your current needs and skill level, you can let it grow with you.

The first thing you need to evaluate are your needs in the kitchen. If you're making simple meals for which you really only need to chop, mince, and dice your ingredients, you can get away with a smaller set until you expand your skills.

Of course, if you know the areas into which you want to make some culinary forays, like working with whole fish for which you'd need a good fillet knife, for example, you can look at your knife set as an investment in your future needs.

Some of our top kitchen knives also come with a large number of steak knives. If you don't need to feed more than a small handful of people, eight steak knives might be overkill. That is, unless you're like every roommate I've ever had, and you have a strange aversion to washing silverware.

Should brand names matter to you? While it is always important to invest in a quality, trustworthy brand, especially when buying an item that has the potential to be dangerous if it breaks, as long as you buy one that is quality made with forged steel, you should be fine. Just figure out whether you want a set that you can grow into, or one that will grow right along side you as you continue to purchase more knives to fill it out.

Oldowan Tools From Our Ancient Ancestors

Depending on your religious beliefs, Oldowan may have one or another meaning to you. If your belief system clashes with the theory of evolution, the idea that there were human ancestors using crude stone tools 2.6 million years ago won't hold a lot of sway.

If you do jive with evolution, then that's where you'd look to see the first use of knives in human history.

If you do jive with evolution, then that's where you'd look to see the first use of knives in human history.

If you're a Jedi, however, Oldowan is probably the name of a planet in a galaxy far, far away.

But we're here to talk about knives, and these simple stone tools were actually manufactured to be sharper than any old rock you'd find lying around Tanzania (where the tools originated).

Early hominids used larger stones to fracture the rocks that they'd use as choppers or scrapers. It took a couple million years for us to get around to using metals instead of rocks, through the Bronze Age and into modernity.

Globally, the Iron Age was marked by the development of extraordinarily sharp implements, including the swords of medieval Europe, Persia, and the far east, and the knives we use even today.

The first knives were much smaller versions of these blades, and were commonly carried by individuals, as much as eating tools as anything else. Nowadays, they're common enough that we can afford to leave them behind in our kitchens, and rarely do we need to kill or skin anything on our commute to the office.

Christopher Thomas
Last updated on March 15, 2020 by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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